Skip to content

Dead Gods

Opening Event: December 31, 2023
Exhibition by appointment until January 7, 2024

‘Dead Gods’ is a living monument that honors our prehistoric fungal ancestors as sacred earthly deities. 

In a moment where humans are set to cause the extinction of one million species, MacEwan is reanimating an ancient terrestrial fungal giant that enabled the proliferation and diversification of life on Earth today. ‘Dead Gods’ pays tribute to a specific prehistoric super-fungi called the Prototaxite. This evolutionary triumph gave rise to the billions of terrestrial life-forms that followed. ‘Dead Gods’ is a practice of inter-species ancestor worship as ecological action. It is created through respectful collaboration with contemporary mushroom descendants of the Prototaxites. The ‘Dead Gods’ reward our attention and care by growing edible and medicinal mushrooms that are gifted to visitors of the exhibition. 

A widespread expression of deity worship has been the creation of effigies and shrines that hold space for experiences with the metaphysical and the sacred. In contrast, to supernatural or immortal gods, ‘Dead Gods’ are mortal, earthly, extinct beings, which tell the story of our ancestral bond to all life on earth. As deities, they present an interpretation of our planet’s natural history as a vehicle for evolutionary spiritual transformation.

‘Dead Gods’ is an ongoing project for which MacEwan repeatedly resurrects the Prototaxities by growing them, at scale, with their contemporary mycelial descendants. These resurrections increase in size and species diversity with each iteration. Reminiscent of a science-fiction narrative, reanimating these now extinct life forms examines the utopic desire to reverse the inevitable process of extinction. Long-term, MacEwan plans to resurrect the ‘Dead Gods’ on a scale comparable to the largest Prototaxities in the fossil record: 20 to 30 feet tall. For Flux Factory, MacEwan presents a multimedia installation of the ‘Dead Gods’ project including living fungi and video projection in a structure reminiscent of a shrine. This presentation is an offering to the divine process of death and renewal as we bring in the new year. 

Artist bio
Jemila MacEwan is an environmental artist known for their earthworks, installations, performances and expanded cinema projects. Their work takes an expansive view of time and geography, often created through slow acts of physical endurance. MacEwan invites audiences to take an interspecies perspective for working through the overwhelming emotional toll of reckoning with anthropogenic climate change and mass extinction. 

MacEwan has performed and exhibited extensively internationally including at; ARoS Museum (Denmark), The Australian Consulate-General, Pioneer Works (NYC), The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (NYC), NYCXDESIGN (USA), and Skaftfell Center for Visual Art (Iceland). In 2022 MacEwan was awarded the NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship in Architecture/Environmental Structures/Design, The Philip Hunter Fellowship, The BigCi Environmental Art Award and was invited by TEDxBoston to present as a Planetary Fellow. They have been invited to attend notable residencies including; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (USA), BANFF Center (Canada), NARS Foundation (NYC), and Ox-Bow School of Painting (MI). Their work has been published in Art in America, Boston Globe, SFMoMA Open Space, and Artist Profile Magazine. MacEwan has been generously supported by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Australia Council for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, the Ian Potter Cultural Council and is a recipient of The Marten Bequest Traveling Scholarship.

Back To Top